The Leones de Leon claimed to have permission to select Lazaro Blanco. It turns out that was not the case.
A few days ago, the Tigres de Chinandega of the Nicaraguan Winter League selected Lázaro Blanco in their reinforcement draft from the Leonés de León and reported they had received permission to do so from the Cuban Baseball Federation as per a video released by the club, this was false.
Based on my sources in the Central American country, and also upon further investigation, I was able to uncover the truth. Blanco’s contract stipulated that he play exclusively with León and any further involvement by the righty in the league was subsequent to approval by the FCB.
Selecting Blanco without communicating it to the Federation made the pitcher’s participation null and void in the tournament as per the Cuban representation in Nicaragua. The righthander was one of the league’s top pitchers placing within the top five in victories (4), ERA (3.38), and strikeouts (41), which will severely impact the team’s pitching rotation in its championship series the Gigantes de Rivas.
Without Blanco the ball club will have two other Cubans on the roster, they are Reinier Roll who has been a key reliever for the team, and infielder Yunior Paumier who was a key cog in the team’s order during the season.
Winter Leagues: The truth about Lázaro Blanco in Nicaragua
More Cubans reinforce Winter League clubs
A few days ago Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and México had their reinforcement drafts and free agency periods for the playoffs. Various Cubans are in the plans of these Winter League clubs.
In Venezuela, Jorge Martínez was signed by Magallanes after the Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League were eliminated by the Águilas Cibañeas in their playoff series. The righty was the pitcher of the year in Venezuela and posted a 2-1 record and a 2.45 ERA in DR this season. He is a welcomed addition to the Venezuelan club’s rotation.
In the DR, major league free agent Peter O’Brien was selected by the Gigantes del Cibao to strengthen their lineup for the team’s final series with the Águilas Cibaeñas. The Cuban-American lit up Águilas’ pitching for three longballs and seven runs batted in with the Toros del Este in the semifinal playoff series between the teams. O’Brien is a big game bat in the Caribbean winning MVP honors in the LIDOM and Caribbean Series last season.
In México, Jalisco’s Dariel Álvarez was selected by the Yaquis de Ciudad Obregón to reinforce the ball club in its playoff series with the Tomateros de Culiacán. Álvarez was league MVP last season and hit .309 with eight roundtrippers and 39 RBI’s. He is also amongst the finalists for the league’s most valuable player the season as well. The native of Camagüey, Cuba was also second in the circuit with 71 hits. Look for plenty of Cubans to play key roles this winter for their teams en route to the Caribbean World Series.